Tag Archives: personality

SPACES – photo project

Currently in the midst of updating my photography portfolio through various concocted projects. Here are a few results from SPACES: Photos of people in places important to them.

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Spaces – a portrait series

One of my latest photo projects, Spaces, will be a series of portraits of individuals in spaces that are important to them. Some of them may look a little like this.

Or this.....All portraits will be medium format (square).

Wade Davis– remembering all culture – telling all stories

I have returned with an audio piece. Wade Davis’s Massey lecture will be broadcast tonight at 9pm (Monday Nov. 2nd 2009) on CBC radio one’s Ideas. I was able to interview him before his final Massey Lecture presentation in Toronto. He was able to give me a half-hour long interview.This is my little piece, produced today and aired on At Humber. I may end up producing a feature profile piece with this interview if I find the time.

memories from the Toronto Hospital for the Insane

InSANITY7

InSANITY6flickr

Artwork from Nuit Blanche exhibition
“In SANITY”, The Story Behind The Wall
Presented by Workman Arts Project Ontario

This sculpture was done by Annalise and is based on the profile of Cynthia H. a patient who was held in the Toronto Asylum for the Insane from 1904 – 1909

All works were based on patient bios from Geoffrey Reaume’s book Remembrance of Patients Past.

Cynthia H.’s fallopian tubes, uterus and one ovary were removed while at the hospital. At the time doctors believed that a woman could be cured of ‘insanity’ by removing her reproductive organs.

All sculptural works at the exhibition reminded me of each individuals struggle but also identified them very specifically as personalities. Each work appeared as an homage to the person being depicted.

cold souls – a review

Dr. Flintstein shows Paul his gallery of souls. Image Courtesy of Adam Bell, Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Dr. Flintstein shows Paul his gallery of souls. Image Courtesy of Adam Bell, Samuel Goldwyn Films.

If you were able to temporarily lock up your soul safely in cold storage would you do it? It would be painlessly sucked out and placed in a cylindrical tube available to you at anytime if you should need it returned to its natural environment. Medical history has seen various methods in which soul destruction was a result and so soul extraction, the premise of Sophie Barthes debut film Cold Souls, is surreal but doesn’t seem that unbelievable.

Lead actor Paul Giamatti, plays him-self. He is struggling through his rehearsals of a Chekhov play and feeling miserable in the process. Upon the advice of a friend and after reading a New Yorker article on the subject he decides soul extraction may cure his angst.

Giamatti has some concerns but doesn’t seem too troubled by the soul extraction specialists’ nonchalant attitude to the procedure or to underground operations involving transportation of souls through a Russian mule. Dr. Flintstein, played by David Strathairn, is upfront about his operation still being in its experimental stages admitting that they don’t know much about its effects. After going through various procedures in Dr. Flintstein’s office, including renting a Russian poets soul, Giamatti finally ends up in Russia in search of his smuggled soul.

Paul looks precariously into the soul extractor. Image courtesy of Adam Bell. Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Paul looks precariously into the soul extractor. Image courtesy of Adam Bell. Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Cold Souls has been compared to Kaufman’s screenplay, Being John Malkovich, the link being the mythologizing of the actors’ soul and the surreal nature of both films. This connection is tenuous and only distracts from an individual analysis of the film. Cold Souls is romantic, fantastical and concrete in its approach while Kaufman’s films are darker and delve into the conceptual a little more.

Barthes, has an intriguing concept in this film. What would happen if we could extract and rent souls? The idea is full of creative potential but the scenes connect together in a wistful meandering that makes the movie feel both too long and a little detached from the subject matter, which is much heavier. It is also the lack of attention to detail that really catches you off-guard. Why was Nina, the Russian mule played by Dina Korzun, so willing to help Giamatti get his soul when it could surely get her in serious trouble with her shady boss? How was it physically implausible for Nina to get her soul back on account of the conglomeration of soul remnants within her WHEN she had been transporting entire Russian souls to the US? Also, how was she the only mule servicing the private New York clinic? All these questions and more pulled me out of the plot.

Despite these annoyances the performances are solid and Giamatti is an expert in his subtle comic approach. There were some wonderfully funny scenes; my favorite being when Giamatti discovers his soul looks just like a chickpea. This is followed by his soul accidentally being tossed across Dr. Flintstein’s office leaving both of them desperately fumbling around to find it.

radio LOVE –CONNECTION– Mandela’s release, Feb. 1990

My radio on the right is over 23 years old and still working.

My radio on the right is over 23 years old and still working.


I really got addicted to radio at the age of seven, upon the completion of almost a year living in Canada. Sitting practically on top of a small metal encased radio, I was afraid of just one word escaping me and as a result all other content becoming disjointed and placed out of context. While listening attentively to the lyrics of a song or a talk radio show I still become frustrated when others feel the need to start blabbing overtop the sound waves.

It was February 11, 1990. Mandela had just been released and CBC’s Cross Country Check-Up (a call in show) was chiming in. If my memory is not playing tricks on me I believe Rex Murphy was hosting at the time. Later on that day the whole family would be glued to a TV for at least an hour. Who was this mysterious man that most South Africans revered, but who many were taught to fear?

As commentary filtered in and out from across the country I began concocting my own words. I imagined how MY voice would resonate from one end of Canada to the other. There were guests throughout the show, South Africans with some insight into this momentous occasion.

If Canadians felt they had something important to share on the matter I knew that I definitely did as well.

“Mom, I think I want to call in.” I pronounced. Some friends were over as well and they all encouraged me to go for it. My arm was a little shaky as I gripped the phone and dialed. I paced the kitchen a little, just like you see nervous people do in the movies, exactly like that. After some time I got through and was placed on the waiting list.

I don’t remember my exact words, but I do know that they were placed carefully, thought over and edited down. The gist was that I expressed why I thought Mandela’s release was so important and what it meant. I think Rex said something very generous about my insight and his guest attentively responded… Beyond that I’m not sure of the details. It was pretty exciting to be on the radio though and a good day to participate. Radio LOVE from then on.

Nelson Mandela addresses Parliament in June, 1990 soon after his release.

BBC broadcast on release of Nelson Mandela


Queen, O So Canadian?? –CONNECTION– Citizenship / Chretién

The Queen

image taken from tellmewhat2 on flickr

The Queen recently awarded Jean Chrétien the Order of Merit and now Canadians are wasting their time debating his apparent ‘merit’. Aaaaargghh it is a QUEEN’S appointment after all… ‘Our Queen’. My disappointment in actuality does not lie within the fact this debate exists, but rather that we aren’t having another one. Why aren’t Canadians arguing about our, oh so odd attachment to British Royalty, and our un-abiding dedication to awarding our own heroes and mentors in an historically British fashion? Okay, so she remains our Queen but I’m not so sure that we are her people?? I mean she wasn’t choosing a Canadian to bestow this honour she was picking her buddy Jean.

BUT according to Christopher McCreery, expert on Canadian decorations, receiving the Order of Merit is an honour higher than being awarded the Order of Canada (which is at least … kind of Canadian …well … officially speaking).

I hadn’t ever felt the Queen’s presence in my life until arriving in Canada from the hot dry climate of Orapa, Botswana.

Specifically I remember the formality that pervaded my ceremonial signing in as a citizen of this country in February 1997 and how little it reflected my Canadian reality. It was a little stunt, an attempt to create a special memory to attach oneself to. It did create a memory, but a vague one. All I remember was that there were hands up, flags, honourable people and swearing allegiance to a Queen. There may have even been a picture of the Queen.

Citizenship. LOOK...Queen on wall. That's me in the brown slumped over...See how impressed I look. I guess this was during my teenage years.

Citizenship. LOOK...Queen on wall. That's me in the brown slumped over...See how impressed I look.

The Queen fit into the context of the daily media I had begun to consume and maybe in social studies class. When it came to the people that surrounded me, however, and the stories they told there was a definite disconnect. I’m not sure that the tough, outdoorsy northerners I went camping and fishing with or who I had drinks with at ‘the gravel pit’ would feel that comfortable sitting in a room with her majesty…Never mind that most Canadians can’t see themselves reflected through British tradition.

The colonial ancestry that our Canadian institutions continue to desperately cling to is a reminder of how much of our story we are willing to shut out (more on this A Fair Country, John Ralston Saul). Is this out of supposed politeness and respect for the current Queen?? I don’t know.

I do know that more often than not this attachment validates the holding up of multitude masks, which block from view immigrant and aboriginal histories and their complexities. They block from view the immense diversity and nuance found within various immigrant and aboriginal histories.

How often do we hear public figures publicly speak to the over 50 languages that originated in this grand land mass and that STILL exist today? Hellooooo, that’s incredible and damn exciting (a wealth of knowledge) and yet this is not what is presented on a world stage. It’s not what is presented because acknowledgement of another’s existence would mean dealing with and acknowledging problematic and divisive relationships that are so often ‘politely’ nudged into a not so roomy political corner.

Unfortunately these realities seem to be reflected in the fact that we do not yet live in a post-colonial world. Colonialism is rampant (but proper) and speedier than ever. Calling it Globalism doesn’t change this fact.

To acknowledge division within ones own country is a brave thing to do. It could also be the first step in beginning a genuine conversation. I say forget Royalty, we’ve got plenty culture to identify with and to draw from. It’s time Canada was represented by a few more voices and a whole lot more story. Why shouldn’t anyone be proud to yell “Hey, we have way more stories over here!!!”


Speaking of stories…check out The Truth About Stories by THOMAS KING

RICK MERCER rant from This Hour Has 22 Minutes days.